Monday, November 28, 2011

Help Your Feathered Friends This Winter.

I am constantly amazed at how life can sustain itself in such extreme conditions.  
A partial list of the birds you might see at your backyard feeders
Recently I was watching the songbirds at our feeding station here at the Sanctuary, and I was marveling at how these small creatures manage to thrive when I have to bundle up in many layers in order to stay outside for more than just a few minutes.

This got me to thinking about the many ways that we can help the birds that live in our backyards, with minimal time and effort.  Winter is a time when our feathered friends could do with a little help.  These simple backyard birdfeeding tips for winter will help them find the food they need to keep up their energy reserves to stay warm and healthy through the winter.

Creating a Bird-friendly Backyard
Winter is a time when our backyard bird friends need our help more than ever.  While they are, incredibly, adequately equipped to deal with harsh winters, we can take some simple steps to make foraging for food a little easier for them.  This helps them to conserve the energy they need to stay warm, and makes winter just a little more bearable.
  • Safe, clean and nutritious food helps wild birds sustain themselves through a cold winter.  There are many bird foods formulated for wild songbirds that you can use in your feeder.  World Bird Sanctuary uses Wild Delight ® in our feed stations.  Whatever food you use needs to be nutritious and fresh.
  • Make sure that your bird feeder is safe - with no hinged sides or exposed hardware that could catch or harm a bird.  There are plans available on the internet to make your own, or you can buy them from any reputable garden store.  There are many different types of feeders - you can choose them according to the types of birds that you want to attract to your garden.  World Bird Sanctuary uses the Droll Yankees  range of feeders in our feed stations, with great success.
  • Refill your feeders regularly to ensure that there is an adequate supply of fresh food, and remove the hulls of seeds and nuts that have been left behind.
  • Provide a fresh source of water regularly.  Birds still need to drink, even when it's cold.  When ponds and lakes are frozen over, a fresh bowl of water will help to attract birds to your backyard.  There a number of heated bird baths available, but if you do not have access to one of these, changing the water daily is sufficient.
  • Suet cakes are a great addition to your bird feeders, providing a high-energy nutritious snack to backyard birds when they need it most.


Jane said...

Any ideas of how to keep squirrels off the feeders? The squirrels are keeping the birds away from mine and everything I try fails. I have my feeders hanging from a tree

Photog said...

Squirrels can be a real problem. We've finally found a couple of solutions since our backyard squirrels travel in herds. There are seed feeders on the market that are situated on a spring system that closes off the feeding port when a squirrel lands on it (his weight pulls it down). Available at most stores that carry a good selection of bird feeders. We've finally found a suet that deters squirrels--it's a hot pepper suet! It doesn't bother the birds, but we watched a squirrel try it the day we first put it out. It bit into the suet, pawed at its mouth, and jumped off the feeder. Never bothered it again. Also, if you have a tall enough tree, you can hang the feeders on a REALLY long rope (about 15-20 feet long) far enough out from the trunk that the squirrel can't jump to it. The feeder needs to be at least six feet off the ground. (This takes a really big tree.) You can also cut the bottom off of a 2-liter soda bottle, tie a big knot in the clothesline the feeder hangs from, and string the cut off soda bottle onto the line so the pour spout rests on the knot. Of course, the feeder needs to be beyond jumping distance from any nearby trees, bushes, chairs, tables, etc. Hope one of these suggestions helps.